Recce cameras being built for Spitfire project

Optronics business Thales will deliver F24 reconnaissance camera installations for Spitfire restoration project

Glasgow-based company Thales has joined the AA810 Spitfire Restoration project – it will overhaul and repair the original F24 reconnaissance camera installations ahead of the historic fighter’s anticipated post-restoration flight in 2024. 

The project is centred around Spitfire PR.IV AA810, shot down on March 5, 1942, after carrying out key reconnaissance on the Tirpitz, one of the most important warships for the German navy. 

The Spitfire wreckage was recovered in 2018, having spent 76 years in a peat bog on a Norwegian mountain. It’s believed to be the most substantial surviving wreck of the three Spitfire PR.IV reconnaissance aircraft known to exist in the world.

The restoration of the cameras, led by Thales, is a significant aspect of the project. The earliest British recce aircraft used F24 cameras, designed by the Williamson Manufacturing Company – but the need for more powerful cameras saw the company team up with W. Vinten Ltd, which continued to produce the majority of aerial cameras for the RAF throughout the war. 

With W. Vinten Ltd having become part of Thales Optronics in 1988, these cameras and their technology represent an important historic legacy for Thales, from which the company’s apprentices will learn more about the history of aerial camera development.

Managing director Stephen McCann said: “Our history is important to the company and its employees. For over 100 years, we have been producing complex electro-optical systems for use on land, at sea, and in the air. Since 1917 we have been the sole supplier of submarine periscopes and optronic masts to the Royal Navy, so to restore these cameras from such an important period in history for use in such an iconic aircraft is very special to us all.”

Thales of Glasgow is restoring camera equipment for Spitfire AA810
Thales of Glasgow is restoring camera equipment for Spitfire AA810 Via Agility PR